HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsComment: Water is a right, not a need

Comment: Water is a right, not a need

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One is intrigued by the continued silence from authorities over lack of potable water in Harare, Chitungwiza and many other cities and towns in Zimbabwe.

The situation has reached crisis levels and residents are being forced to accept this as a normal way of life.

Local authorities should come up with strategies to avert the looming outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera that killed thousands of people in Zimbabwe three years ago.

Harare and Chitungwiza were the worst affected because sewage had seeped into wells making these water sources a health hazard. Residents in those areas were literally drinking their own faeces.
The fact is that digging of wells continues unabated and it is imperative for local authorities to ensure that these water sources are safe for residents.
Access to clean water is a right and not a privilege. Unfortunately, the idea of water as a basic human right has not been affirmed by our leaders.
Water is the most basic service that any local authority must provide. Changing the way we think about water is the only key to raising the quality of life for all people.
But life for millions of residents is at stake right now as the pursuit to find water becomes more and more stressful as families struggle to find ways of beating this crisis.
What is most annoying is the billing system which is based on estimate readings of meters that never move.
This matter also applies to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) which switches off power randomly leaving families hopelessly in the dark, but come month end they will be demanding cash for a service that was not supplied.
The impact this has had on our environment is disastrous. Trees have been cut on a very large scale across Zimbabwe creating a serious environmental crisis.
Firewood is being sold everywhere in Harare, a clear testimony of the fact that power cuts have changed people’s lifestyles.
But both water and power authorities are very quick to disconnecting defaulting residents who have spent so much on firewood, candles and in some instances bought water.
Where on earth do they expect residents to meet costs of bringing power to their homes when we all know that a huge chunk of money collected from residents goes to salaries?
And why are Zesa workers exempt from these power bills? There are Zesa employees who are engaged in businesses that consume gigawatts of power, but pay nothing for it.
Employees from both the power and water utilities should start paying bills because we are sustaining their extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the majority who struggling to make ends meet.

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